Three Stories of Courage and Faith                                        


            “It’s been a rough week! An earthquake and a Hurricane! Could you use a story of inspiration in the midst of struggle? Me too. Here are the stories of brave souls who demonstrated extraordinary courage in the face of difficulty.”


For some, ‘Vietnam’ is only an appalling memory. For others born after 1970, the war represents a few pages in a history book and an occasional, “remember when…” discussion around the kitchen table. But for our vets, the injuries, physical and emotional are as real today as they were thirty years ago when our nation’s finest were fighting and dying by the thousands overseas.

            A few years ago, our church Missions Team was asked to provide help for David Roberts, a Vietnam vet working to finish building his dream house. Most of the frame was up, but he needed help with the roof. While working on his house, we discovered that Dave, in addition to being a pretty good builder, was also a gifted poet and a championship bowler. Normally, none of this would be considered all that unusual except that David also lost both legs fighting in Vietnam.

            Read that again. David lost both legs fighting in Vietnam.

            We expected to find a helpless, dejected human being dealing with tragedy. Instead we found a human dynamo of energy and enthusiasm that easily outworked and out hustled all of us. It was amazing to watch how he creatively managed to work, even on the roof. Before long, he was just one of the guys, laughing and telling jokes while hammering away: His handicap forgotten.    


Courage could also be found in Eddie Harris, a talented musician and gifted minister. For years, Eddie and his wife, Laurie had been a creative influence behind many of our church’s musical projects. More importantly, his enthusiasm and love for God was displayed in everything he did. I recently received word that doctors discovered a dangerous parasite in his brain. The only known treatment is a drug commonly called sulfa. Unfortunately, Eddie was allergic to sulfa. 

            Eddie lost most of his motor skills and was barely able to eat or talk. From a medical point of view, the doctors offered little hope. He had every right to be bitter, but a loving family refused to allow it. Once, when I visited, Laurie was pushing his wheel chair in a race with another patient. In his room, there were plants and cards everywhere. Next to the bed was a beautiful electric piano. You see, Eddie still played… frequently. I’m told you often heard the sounds of laughter and singing as the Harris family continued to celebrate God’s love in the midst of personal tragedy.


Margaret Yancey was the mother of a close friend. For weeks, she had been in constant pain from something the doctors cannot seem to diagnose. She ate little and as her health and energy continued to deteriorate her family had to make critical decisions: Should Margaret be at home with professional care? Should she be in a nursing care facility?

            A minister friend visited the hospital to offer Margaret comfort and the prayers of his church. When asked if she would like to pray she said, “Certainly.” As everyone bowed their heads the pastor prepared to speak but was interrupted by the voice of Margaret who began her own beautiful prayer praising God. The pastor could only reply: “I can’t add anything to that!”


            Three stories of tragedy yet instead we see three stunning examples of courage and faith.


            Maybe this explains why Paul could confidently write: “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (Romans 8:35-37)

            No one would blame David, Eddie or Margaret for becoming bitter in the midst of suffering. Yet, they chose courage and their examples of faith serve as motivation for us all.


So, despite, earthquakes, Hurricane Irene and every tragedy life can throw at us, the promise of God is… “overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us.”


Isn’t that great? I feel better already. Don’t you?